'The X Factor': Maybe Cheryl Cole's not done after all?

cheryl-cole-fox-upfront-320.jpgGuess what? There's even more backstage drama on "The X Factor," with the latest round of reports suggesting that Cheryl Cole may yet return to the show.

Citing "sources close to" "X Factor" creator/lead judge Simon Cowell, British paper The Mirror reports that Cole has been invited to return to Los Angeles. No deal is done yet, but the source says that "We have offered Cheryl a second chance and she might still come back to [the] U.S. 'X Factor.' FOX have been re-examining the situation and have had a change of heart."

Or at least a look at the bottom line. TMZ is reporting that Cole a "pay or play" contract that guarantees her about $1.5 million regardless of whether she stays with the show, which premieres in the fall. Fremantle, which produces the show with Cowell's company Syco, isn't thrilled about paying up if Cole is replaced.

What the latest maneuvering would mean for Nicole Scherzinger, who was hired to host "The X Factor" but then tapped as Cole's replacement on the judging panel, is unclear. FOX and the producers haven't made any announcements on Cole's or Scherzinger's status.

On Friday, reports indicated that Cole would be billed as a "guest judge" for the two episodes she did tape, but she had turned down an offer to return to the British version of the show.

For what it's worth, we didn't notice any obvious problems with Cole when Zap2it attended the first "X Factor" taping in Los Angeles last month. It's true that several contestants asked her to repeat some comments, but to our ears that had less to do with her Newcastle accent -- one of the reasons for which she's allegedly being let go -- than with the acoustics at USC's Galen Center. The contestants and audience had trouble hearing the other judges at first too, but after the technical issues were resolved everyone seemed to understand her just fine.

We suspect we'll be hearing much more about Cole and "The X Factor" in the coming days, so stay tuned.
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